In 2010, I overheard the Say Anything set at Bamboozle New Jersey as I met the members of Motion City Soundtrack at their merch booth. Hearing their music live was awesome, but I vowed that I’d go to a proper show and be in the pit and really experience one of their live shows some day. Sunday, June 29 was that day. Say Anything headlined the House of Blues in Boston, one of my favorite venues (even though everyone else on the scene hates that it’s “so corporate”), and the best goddamn band in the world opened: The Front Bottoms.
Actually, three bands opened. The first was You Blew It!, whom we saw open for The Front Bottoms in February. They play a really energetic show, and the boys look so happy to be on stage that it’s always fun to see them play. Much like in February, they came on stage during The Front Bottoms’ set and during Say Anything’s to play songs with them, which added a bit of spontaneity that was fantastic. Apparently, HoB is the largest venue they’ve played, but if they were nervous, it didn’t really show. I loved watching them play.
The second opener was the So So Glos, whose music I would probably like recorded but couldn’t really get into live. I don’t think it had anything to do with the music itself — it was straightforward punk with an anti-hate message, which I usually dig — but rather the performance. I craved more stage presence and less baseball jokes, because I’m not a New England native and honestly don’t care about the Red Sox. (I’ll probably get lynched for that later, but sports have never ever been my thing.) I’ll have to check out their recorded stuff and see how I feel.
When The Front Bottoms took the stage, the crowd went completely apeshit. That was expected — AR and I have seen this band four times in the last year and we’ve left every single pit feeling like we’ve been run over by a horde of elephants. For me, seeing The Front Bottoms was the highlight of the whole night. I’ve wanted to see Say Anything for years and I absolutely loved their set, don’t get me wrong. But The Front Bottoms are my favorite band and seeing them live is almost a spiritual thing, every time. It’s cathartic and intense and makes me feel like I’m ten feet tall, no matter what else might be going on in my life when I enter or leave the venue.
TFB opened with “Skeleton”, as usual, so screaming the opening lyric with other fans in the crowd felt like entering a whole new headspace. Since it was only a 40-minute set, the band played a lot of favorites from the self-titled album and last year’s Talon of the Hawk. That was absolutely fine by me, though it was also amazing to hear a new, untitled song and even cooler to hear “Jim Bogart”. TFB just released a new ep, Rose, named after drummer Mat Uycich’s grandmother Rosemary, which features re-recorded, previously unreleased songs from the days when the band was just producing music for friends to hear.
By the time TFB left the stage, my voice was pretty much shot. I still managed to get keyboardist/trumpeter/guitarist Ciaran O’Donnell’s attention by screaming his name like a pterodactyl (sorry, Ciaran), who was an absolute darling and gave us a setlist to take home. After the show, we stuck around to chat with the boys from You Blew It! and got to chat with Mat and Ciaran, as well as Kenny from Say Anything, which was super cool.
Last time we saw TFB, I asked lead singer Brian Sella to write out lyrics from “Santa Monica” for a tattoo, which he did rather reluctantly. Though we didn’t get to see Sella so that I could show him (we had a train to catch), I did get to show Mat and Ciaran, both of whom said that Brian very rarely does stuff like that. As Ciaran pointed out, “he doesn’t want to be part of something that someone will regret one day.” I’m hoping that next time we see TFB, I can thank Sella for being kind enough to temper his handwriting so that it could be inked in my skin forever.
Going into the Say Anything set, I was on an absolute high that I hoped would remain for the rest of the show. Luckily, frontman Max Bemis brought a ton of presence to the stage and the rest of the band was so energetic and into the music that the high only continued. The song selection was pretty much perfect — Bemis’ wife Sherri DuPree Bemis and their daughter joined the band onstage for “Cemetery”, which had everyone dying, and the entire venue screamed every word to “Wow, I Can Get Sexual, Too”. Seeing Bemis perform “Every Man Has a Molly” acoustic during the encore was hands down the best part of the set for me. The band played a great mixture of old and new songs from their ridiculously large catalog, but I’ll keep holding out hope for a 10-year “Is A Real Boy…” tour just because it would be perfect.
Waiting in line for hours to be on barricade for this show was absolutely worth it. Our portion of the crowd was really respectful of each other but also really into the show, which is always a great combination, and the small child next to me who was at the show with his mom and dad seemed to have an awesome time, which somehow became super important to me once I realized he was there. As much as people complain about the House of Blues because it’s a corporate chain, I’ve never had a bad experience attending a show there. Security gave out water to thirsty, overheated crowd members without having to be asked, and everything was very organized from beginning to end. I had an absolutely amazing time and would absolutely repeat the experience, beginning to end, without changing a thing.